Argentina’s government has announced that the next national census will take place on May 18, 2022, two years after originally planned.
Announcing the news at a press conference in the capital, President Alberto Fernández said that the Censo Nacional de Población, Hogares y Viviendas (“National Population, Household and Housing Census”), which was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic, would take place next year.
The president described the national survey as “a kind of photograph we take of Argentina every 10 years” and said that its results would shape state policies.
"For the development of a society, the economy and the individual development of each Argentine, knowing where we stand is essential. The Census helps us to fully understand where our strengths and weaknesses are," he declared.
Inaugurating the first meeting of a committee overseeing the vast project, the Peronist leader used the announcement to campaign a little, aiming a jab at his predecessor, Mauricio Macri, without directly naming him.
"We come from a time when the State was very neglected, very unprotected, very neglected by those who governed," said Fernández, speaking at the Bicentennial Museum next ot the Casa Rosada.
"We want to know how many people are homeless, what happens to our prison population, what happens to the kids on the street,” he said, observing that new technologies would “allow the task of the census taker to be facilitated from a computer or mobile phone."
The census is one of the most ambitious projects undertaken by Argentine governments. Every 10 years, the country comes to a standstill, with only essential services allowed to remain open. Throughout the day, an army of workers visit every home in the country, going door-to-door, questioning residents. The process is normally overseen by the INDEC national statistics bureau.
The government will be hoping for a quieter time of things this time around. The last time Argentina's National Census took place – on October 27, 2010 – former president Néstor Kirchner suffered a cardiac arrest at his home in El Calafate, shocking the nation.
This year, the National Census will be carried out under a new legal framework, with people counted according to their usual place of residence (that is, where they "spend most of the time during the week”) and given the choice of declaring their chosen ethnic or gender identity.
According to the Presidency, the 2022 edition will also be digital. Via its new e-CENSUS scheme, a single questionnaire will be accessible to all citizens and residents online two months in advance of the main event, saving time for census takers, who will be kitted out with suitable technology.
Seven days before the day of the census, "rural areas, collective dwellings and people living on the streets" will be surveyed, according to a plans produced by INDEC cited by the Télam state news agency, while on the day of the national "territorial sweep," which will be a national holiday, data will be taken for "total dwellings and population."
Preliminary data is expected to be ready 30 days after the Census has taken place, according to INDEC forecasts. The “final basic results,” Télam reported, would be ready around eight months after the event, with “definitive expanded results” ready 13 months on from the national survey.
According to the Presidency, “the objective of the National Census is "to count – without omitting or duplicating – each and every one of the population, households and dwellings in the correct place, [and] to know, quantify and analyse the demographic and socioeconomic structure and the distribution of the population."